CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that nearly $10 million will be targeted this fiscal year for breast and cervical cancer screenings and educational outreach throughout Illinois and he pledged next year will bring even more spending.
Using a combination of faith-based and community-based organizations and health centers, clinics and hospitals, the state will make use of $6 million in federal funds and $4 million in state dollars to reach almost 30,000 women in hard-to-reach communities to stress the importance of early detection of breast and cervical cancer, screening and treatment.
“Breast and cervical cancer robs our state of nearly 3,000 women each year,” Blagojevich said. “Unfortunately, women in some communities in our state – generally communities that are disproportionately poor and disproportionately minority – don’t always have the access to care they need. That has got to change.
“We are determined to make sure that every woman, no matter where she lives, no matter how much money she has, has access to the screenings, to the early detection and to the care she needs to keep her healthy.”
The Governor added $2 million to the current fiscal year budget to aid with the breast and cervical cancer outreach effort – fulfilling a campaign promise – and today pledged to double that amount to $4 million in the fiscal year 2005 budget he will introduce next spring.
“Even though we found ourselves cutting more than $1.5 billion in spending, with the increased funding, spending for breast and cervical cancer screenings now totals nearly $10 million,” Blagojevich said before telling a crowd of 300 at Mt. Sinai Hospital that next year will bring additional spending. “I feel good about this, but you haven’t seen anything yet. Next year, we are determined to do even more. Giving women access to the screenings and to the treatment they need will always be a priority for my administration. Today is only a beginning.”
The state program, as outlined by the Governor, includes:
- Support of Stand Against Cancer Initiative, a community outreach and screening program targeting the hardest to reach minority women. The initiative, which will be conducted by a collation of neighborhood organizations, churches and Federally Qualified Health Centers, will take a majority of the $2 million in new money for this year and is designed to provide 1,500 cancer screening examinations this year and reach thousands of women through community educational programs.
- In collaboration with faith-based and community organizations, $500,000 will be used on a comprehensive health education and outreach project that will be developed to address the importance of the early detection of breast and cervical cancer and provide health education and outreach services to thousands of women in 39 communities of color throughout the state. These organizations will assist in the identification of individuals trained, or can be trained, as lay advocates to implement an education plan that will be customized to a communities specific needs.
- About $1.3 million will be used to contract with Federally Qualified Health Centers, clinics and hospitals to provide screenings to needy women currently not enrolled in the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), a state and federally-funded program that currently services 17,000 women a year at a cost of $6 million a year. Through a special arrangement, the Stand Against Cancer Initiative will be able to refer women with abnormal screening results to the IBCCP for diagnostic workups. Those enrolled in the ICCP may be eligible for breast and cervical cancer treatment through the Illinois Department of Public Aid.
Mortality rates are significantly lower for white women than African-American and Hispanic women. Reasons for this disparity include lower incomes and the lack of health insurance, which prevents appropriate screenings and follow-up treatment.